Custody Modification


#1

I am having trouble finding a lawyer to take my concerns seriously. I have been divorced, with joint custody for a few years now. My ex has repeatedly refused to allow any extra time with my daughter, even though our agreement states it is “flexible”. She has attempted an ex parte order to take my daughter out of state when she was injured (the ex, not my daughter), and it never made it to court. Now that my daughter has started school, she filed a motion to give her sole custody with no mention of visitation to me, based on the fact that my daughter has started school, I moved, reside with my girlfriend, and have my girlfriend take care of our daughter. I have lived with my girlfriend since May, and she has watched my daughter only a few times, one of which was when the ex couldn’t come back from vacation in time to get our daughter when the babysitter had a family emergency. The ex had planned to leave my daughter at the sitter’s the day I was due to drop her off, let her stay overnight, then get her once she got back into town. She has also attempted to leave her overnight at the sitter’s on another occasion. My girlfriend also has children, is very respectable and responsible, and we have been together over 2 years. I have had my daughter on a very consistent basis since our separation, and have even begged for more time, but I am always denied. She sends my daughter to my home in the very clothes I sent her back in, sends her in things that don’t match, or are too small. She even does things like keeps “her” lunch box at her home so I have to buy a new one. There are many control issues and I worry for my daughter’s socialization and emotional development. My ex treats our daughter like she is a possession. The ex knows everything about my girlfriend, has her number, etc. On the flip side, I know hardly anything about the person she is seeing, other than he may be less than legal and engages in minor illegal activity. I have voiced my concerns and she basically shrugs it off and offers no information other than it’s none of my business. I feel she wants to cut me out of my daughter’s life and replace me with him. I already have no say in any of my daughter’s life outside of the time she is with me, and I do not want to continue this way. We are scheduled for mediation, and I have spoken with lawyers, but they all seem quite unconcerned with my ex’s behavior. I do not expect my ex to agree to anything I want in mediation. What can I do, and how can I file a response to her motion that gets the court’s attention I feel it deserves?


#2

if mediation doesn’t work, you need to prepare to have a hearing on the merits of the case and have a judge decide the proper custody/visitation schedule. If you have concerns about her boyfriend, you could have background checks run to bring to court. I do not advise filing a response to her motion as that only gives her insight into what your arguments are and allows her to plan rebuttal arguments.

Picking a lawyer can be a tough decision, and sometimes you need to do more than one consultation to find the attorney that is the right fit for you, and that gives you confidence that he/she will advocate for your position. I would suggest continuing your search for that lawyer because he/she is out there, and it sounds like you have a complicated custody case and need some guidance.